If we’re honest, we all knew this day was coming. Togashi’s quotes in WSJ over the past several weeks have been pretty morbid, and it never seemed likely that he’d be able to keep up an extended run of weekly chapters given his apparently horrific back pain. The only hope was that he’d been working in fits and starts during the last two-year hiatus, and has some material saved up. And who knows, maybe he did, and that’s where these ten or so chapters came from.
I didn’t want to blog this while running around like crazy, throwing something together in a few spare minutes – I thought it was better to be late and give the post the time it needed. It’s not that I think this will really be the final Hunter X Hunter chapter – I don’t. But every time a hiatus starts we at least have to consider the possibility that it will be permanent. Togashi isn’t getting any younger and his back isn’t getting any better, and he still reportedly loathes relying on assistants (though perhaps not mahou shoujo mangaka). The upside is that it’s clear Togashi clearly still wants to finish H x H – if he didn’t, he wouldn’t put himself through the agony of writing it. He shows no signs of winding down the story (or losing interest in it). But even if the spirit is willing, the flesh still seems very weak.
Togashi leaves the “Dark Continent” arc very much in a state of flux, introducing yet more new concepts into the limitless mythology of Hunter X Hunter. The bodyguard system is finally explained – and not even Queen Oito knew the rules. As the lowest-ranked queen, all of the bodyguards assigned to her were effectively spies for the higher-ranking queens – still technically protecting her and Prince Woble, but with clearly divided loyalties.
Then there’s the matter of the “Parasite-type” Nen – a new concept for H x H, and one which adds a rather frightening and unsettling element. It seems that this Nen can be imposed from the outside (the “parasite egg” ceremony) and develops quickly in the host. Seriously, this King and his weird royal hierarchy are fucked up – we don’t even know all the details yet but it’s clear that he’s one twisted bastard.
And there we leave it – for “some time”, as the note in the magazine says. I’ve tried to take the approach of appreciating every chapter we get, thinking of everything after the Election arc as gravy. Still, with Volume 33 powering past the million mark in two weeks and Hunter X Hunter still a commercial monster, it’s hard not to be saddened by the fact that Togashi seems destined never to be able to finish the series in a normal fashion. It’s not fair – but life isn’t fair. As Warren Zevon said, enjoy every sandwich – and let’s hope we get a few more to chew on before it’s all said and done.